Pandemic life, two years later: Where do you fit in?

Two years after the coronavirus pandemic swept through the United States, the masks are coming off. Workers are back in offices, students are back in classrooms, stores and restaurants are open for business. A growing number of Americans are ready to move on.

And yet: More than 15,000 Americans have died of the virus this month alone. Illness, grief, anxiety and disruptions to daily life still afflict millions. Nearly three-quarters of American adults are fully vaccinated, but nearly 25 million children under 5 can’t get that protection.

It will take years to fully absorb and assess how profoundly this virus transformed the country. One way to grapple with the disruption is to consider where you fit in with your fellow Americans. Using a variety of data sources, we have created a series of questions to help you do that. Your answers are confidential and will not be collected.

Did you have covid-19?

Each person represents

1.5 million Americans

Each person represents

1 million Americans

Each person represents

1 million Americans

You managed to avoid a virus that has infected an estimated 140 million Americans, or 43 percent of the U.S. population.

You’re among an estimated 43 percent of Americans who have been infected. Hopefully, you had an easy recovery or got the medical care you needed.

GOT COVID

Each person represents

1.5 million Americans

You’re among an estimated 43 percent of Americans who have been infected. Hopefully, you had an easy recovery or got the medical care you needed.

You managed to avoid a virus that has infected an estimated

140 million Americans, or 43 percent of the U.S. population.

GOT COVID

Each person represents

1 million Americans

You managed to avoid a virus that has infected an estimated

140 million Americans, or 43 percent of the U.S. population.

You’re among an estimated 43 percent of Americans who have been infected. Hopefully, you had an easy recovery or got the medical care you needed.

GOT COVID

Each person represents

1 million Americans

The official tally of U.S. coronavirus cases to date is about 80 million, but that reflects only confirmed cases reported by the states. Some people have been infected more than once; many others never got tested.

To arrive at a more accurate number, health authorities look at blood tests that detect antibodies from infection. These estimates indicate that more than 140 million Americans — about 43 percent of the population — have had the virus. That’s about double the rate reflected in national case counts.

The severity of covid-19 can vary from person to person based on age, vaccination status, underlying conditions and other factors. Many people experience a mild to moderate flu-like illness. But as these blood test estimates suggest, many infections come and go with no symptoms, enabling the virus to spread stealthily through the population.

Have you had long covid?

Each person represents

1.5 million Americans

Each person represents

1 million Americans

Each person represents

1 million Americans

It’s not your fault. Up to 7 percent of all Americans have suffered from this condition, which is still puzzling scientists two years into the pandemic.

You’re fortunate. Up to 7 percent of Americans have suffered from this condition.

LONG COVID

Each person represents

1.5 million Americans

It’s not your fault. Up to 7 percent of all Americans have suffered from this condition, which is still puzzling scientists two years into the pandemic.

You’re fortunate. Up to 7 percent of Americans have suffered from this condition.

LONG COVID

Each person represents

1 million Americans

It’s not your fault. Up to 7 percent of all Americans have suffered from this condition, which is still puzzling scientists two years into the pandemic.

You’re fortunate. Up to 7 percent of Americans have suffered from this condition.

LONG COVID

Each person represents

1 million Americans

Long covid is one of the pandemic’s most vexing problems. There’s still no agreed-upon definition or diagnosis for this condition. It usually appears as a collection of symptoms that can include fatigue, shortness of breath, or “brain fog” lasting four weeks or more after infection.

Between 7.7 million and 23 million people in the United States have had long covid, according to federal estimates. That’s up to 7 percent of all Americans, or up to 16 percent of the 140 million Americans estimated to have gotten the coronavirus. Even mild illness can cause long-lasting symptoms. Tim Kaine, a Democratic senator from Virginia, recovered from a mild case of covid-19 in spring 2020 and said he’s still experiencing nerve problems two years later.

Long covid can be nightmarish for patients and their families. Prolonged exhaustion is robbing some people of the joys of raising children or forcing them to abandon careers. Too sick to return to work, some are facing financial hardship and struggling to get benefits. Patients and doctors say the health-care system is ill-equipped to handle the growing need for specialized care.

Did a family member die of covid-19?

Each person represents

200,000 Americans

Each person represents

200,000 Americans

Each person represents

200,000 Americans

By some estimates, 9 million Americans have lost immediate relatives to the disease. Many more have lost friends and acquaintances.

By some estimates, 9 million Americans have lost immediate relatives to the disease. Many more have lost friends and acquaintances.

By some estimates, 9 million Americans have lost immediate relatives to the disease. Many more have lost friends and acquaintances.

By some estimates, 9 million Americans have lost immediate relatives to the disease. Many more have lost friends and acquaintances.

By some estimates, 9 million Americans have lost immediate relatives to the disease. Many more have lost friends and acquaintances.

By some estimates, 9 million Americans have lost immediate relatives to the disease. Many more have lost friends and acquaintances.

It’s hard to know how many people on average are left grieving when someone dies of covid-19 — families and social networks are often self-defined and range in size. However, scientists have been trying to estimate how many family members are bereaved by each death. That helps them study the psychological, social and economic impact of these sudden losses from a new disease and learn how covid-19 mortality affects society overall.

One such estimate found that, on average, every covid-19 death in the United States leaves nine close relatives bereaved. With the country’s official death toll approaching 1 million, that means some 9 million people have lost a grandparent, parent, sibling, spouse or child to the coronavirus since it first appeared. And the bereavement burden is unequal: Covid-19 has killed Black, Latino and Native American people at far higher rates than White and Asian people, making people in those groups at greater risk of losing a family member.

These estimates are all but certain to be low. During the pandemic, the country has recorded more than 1 million excess deaths — that is, deaths exceeding the number expected in a given period — and many of those are probably attributable to covid-19. Nor do these estimates account for the constellation of extended family, friends, neighbors, colleagues, community members and others surrounding every victim of the coronavirus. They, too, feel the loss.

Did you lose your job?

Each person represents

1 percent of Americans

employed before the pandemic

Each person represents

1 percent of Americans

employed before the pandemic

You’re among the 58 percent of Americans who kept working through the pandemic’s ups and downs. Forty-two percent of workers spent at least some time not working between spring 2020 and fall 2021.

The pandemic put many Americans out of work. You may have been among the 42 percent of employed people who spent at least some time not working between spring 2020 and fall 2021.

UNEMPLOYED

EMPLOYED

Each person represents

1 percent of Americans

employed before the pandemic

You’re among the 58 percent of Americans who kept working through the pandemic’s ups and downs. Forty-two percent of workers spent at least some time not working between spring 2020 and fall 2021.

The pandemic put many Americans out of work. You may have been among the 42 percent of employed people who spent at least some time not working between spring 2020 and fall 2021.

UNEMPLOYED

EMPLOYED

Each person represents

1 percent of Americans

employed before the pandemic

The pandemic rapidly sent the U.S. economy reeling. Legions of workers were laid off or furloughed amid rising caseloads, capacity restrictions and stay-home orders. The labor market has since roared back to life, with unemployment reaching a pandemic low of 3.8 percent in February, although the country is still 2.1 million jobs short of pre-pandemic levels.

Twenty-eight percent of American adults who were working before the pandemic lost their job or were temporarily sidelined between March 2020 and October 2021, according to The Washington Post’s review of employment data. Of people who were employed at the start of the pandemic, 42 percent had spent some time not working by fall 2021.

Lower-income workers were most affected. Thirty-five percent of workers who make less than $40,000 per year said they missed work because their workplace closed or had reduced hours this winter, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. That compares with 9 percent of those making between $40,000 and $89,000, and 6 percent of those making $90,000 or more per year.

Did you work from home?

Each person represents

1 percent of Americans

employed before the pandemic

Each person represents

1 percent of Americans

employed before the pandemic

You’re part of an evolving workforce. More than 35 percent of employees teleworked in May 2020, the highest proportion on record in the pandemic. 13 percent teleworked in February 2022.

You’re one of many who never set up a home office. As much as 35 percent of the workforce teleworked in May 2020, the highest proportion on record in the pandemic. 13 percent did so in February 2022.

WORKING

FROM

HOME

You’re one of many who never set up a home office. As much as 35 percent of the workforce teleworked in May 2020, the highest proportion on record in the pandemic. 13 percent did so in February 2022.

You’re part of an evolving workforce. More than 35 percent of

employees teleworked in May 2020, the highest proportion on record

in the pandemic. 13 percent teleworked in February 2022.

WORKING FROM HOME

Each person represents

1 percent of Americans

employed before the pandemic

While many people lost their jobs in the pandemic, millions of others were asked to work from home during surges, setting off a seismic shift in the nature of American work. Americans set up home offices, took Zoom meetings from couches and kitchen tables, ditched commutes. The spike in remote work has reconfigured companies large and small, and realigned relationships between employees and employers. Twitter announced in fall 2020 that remote employees would never need to return to the office. Other businesses are taking a hybrid approach or even shortening their workweeks.

The proportion of the workforce that is teleworking has fluctuated. In February of this year, as the country emerged from a massive wave of cases of the omicron variant, 13 percent of employed people said they had teleworked at some point in the past four weeks because of the pandemic, according to federal employment data. The proportion was highest in May 2020, when this data collection began. That month, more than 35 percent of employees teleworked.

Did you experience anxiety or depression?

Each person represents

10 percent of Americans

Each person represents

10 percent of Americans

Each person represents

5 percent of Americans

You’re not alone. At the highest point in the pandemic, nearly 43 percent of American adults showed symptoms of anxiety or depression.

The pandemic has been challenging, but not everyone has experienced psychological distress.

Each person represents

10 percent of Americans

You’re not alone. At the highest point in the pandemic, nearly 43 percent of American adults showed symptoms of anxiety or depression.

The pandemic has been challenging, but not everyone has experienced psychological distress.

Each person represents

10 percent of Americans

You’re not alone. At the highest point in the pandemic, nearly 43 percent of American adults showed symptoms of anxiety or depression.

The pandemic has been challenging, but not everyone has experienced psychological distress.

Each person represents

5 percent of Americans

Isolation, loss, economic insecurity and the general malaise of living with a deadly virus have all contributed to a rise in psychological distress. In data collected by the Census Bureau from Jan. 26 to Feb. 7, 2022, more than 31 percent of U.S. adults showed symptoms of an anxiety or depressive disorder.

During more chaotic periods in the pandemic, the figure has been significantly higher. The highest levels of anxiety and depression during the pandemic were recorded in mid-November 2020, amid a brutal cold-weather infection wave and the presidential election. At that point, close to 43 percent of U.S. adults presented anxiety and depression symptoms, data shows. Before the pandemic, in 2019, about 11 percent of adults showed such symptoms, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Did you lose access to child care?

Each child represents

2 percent of households

with children under 11

Each child represents

1 percent of households

with children under 11

Many parents have. More than a third of households with children under 11 said they experienced some kind of disruption in January and February of this year.

You caught a break. More than a third of households with children under 11 said they experienced some kind of disruption in January and February of this year.

Each child represents

2 percent of households

with children under 11

Many parents have. More than a third of households with children under 11 said they experienced some kind of disruption in January and February of this year.

You caught a break. More than a third of households with children under 11 said they experienced some kind of disruption in January and February of this year.

Each child represents

1 percent of households

with children under 11

The past two years have whiplashed young families. Disease outbreaks at schools and day cares have upended the carefully choreographed routines that many families perform to get through the week. Shortages of child-care workers bring further complications. Some parents have left work or canceled job interviews to stay home and care for their kids, putting immense financial strain on families.

In January and early February of this year, more than a third of households with children under 11 said they experienced some kind of disruption to child care, according to the Census Bureau. That’s the highest proportion since the bureau began asking the question in July 2021.

Did you stay close with your partner?

Each person represents

one percent of adults

Each person represents

one percent of adults

Each person represents

one percent of adults

7 percent of Americans said their romantic relationships worsened since the start of the pandemic. 74 percent said their relationships stayed the same.

16 percent of Americans said their romantic relationships improved since the start of the pandemic. 74 percent said their relationships stayed the same.

16 percent of Americans said their romantic relationships improved since the start of the pandemic. 74 percent said their relationships stayed the same.

7 percent of Americans said their romantic relationships worsened since the start of the pandemic. 74 percent said their relationships stayed the same.

7 percent of Americans said their romantic relationships worsened since

the start of the pandemic. 74 percent said their relationships stayed the same.

16 percent of Americans said their romantic relationships improved since the start of the pandemic. 74 percent said their relationships stayed the same.

Despite the turmoil of the past two years, some surveys suggest that Americans’ closest relationships have held steady.

In one poll this year, 16 percent said their relationship with their romantic partner had improved, while 7 percent said it had worsened. Seventy-four percent said their relationship was about the same as it was before the pandemic. However, researchers also noted a rise in domestic violence, particularly in the early months of shutdowns.

There are some indications that resilience may extend to family life as well. Kids by and large said they have stayed on good terms with their parents, even as school and social life were upended. In a Washington Post-Ipsos poll last year, 89 percent of teens said the pandemic had a positive impact or no impact on their relationship with their parents. Overall, 96 percent of teens said their relationship with their parents was “excellent” or “good.”

Shelly Tan and Leo Dominguez contributed to this report.

About this story

Text by Derek Hawkins. Data analysis by Alyssa Fowers and Dan Keating. Development by Madison Dong. Illustrations by Simon Ducroquet. Editing by Simon Ducroquet and Ann Gerhart. Copy editing by Vanessa Larson.

Data sources: Washington Post reporting, Johns Hopkins University, Kaiser Family Foundation, University of Southern California Center for Economic and Social Research, Census Bureau’s Household Pulse survey, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Government Accountability Office and EPIC Research Network.